Can I Sue For A Florida Accident If It Was Partially My Fault?
We get this question more than you might think. In the aftermath of an accident, you may be left with serious or permanent medical issues, high bills and insurance premiums, and expensive property damage. Many people are overwhelmed and unsure of their options. There is a common misconception that in order to recover damages someone else had to be 100% responsible for causing them. While this is the ideal case, it is also a rare one. An accident hardly ever happens in the absence of negligence, and it’s relatively uncommon to be able to isolate all negligence to one party. Insurance adjusters tend to assess the facts and circumstances of an accident with a microscope, assigning liability for very minor things that would never have caused an accident in the absence of another person’s recklessness, such as a burnt out tail light or failing to come to a complete stop. The good news is that while it can be nerve-racking to be hit with some of the blame, it is not a bar to recovering damages in Florida.
Comparative Negligence in Florida
Florida applies the comparative negligence model, which means that the circumstances of the case are assessed and liability is assigned based on any negligence each party contributed to causing the overall accident. Under this model, you are able to sue for damages as long as you are not found to be the primary cause of the damage. In other words, if you were assigned less than 50% of the fault, you have standing to sue and recover damages.
Were You Actually at Fault?
Another important thing to consider is whether the fault assessment made by the insurance adjuster was accurate. If you had a burnt out tail light but were struck in a head-on collision, the tail light cannot be said to have contributed to the accident, and fault should be adjusted accordingly. Even in instances where there was a more direct correlation between the liability you were assigned and the accident, your negligence is not relevant if the other driver’s recklessness was so extreme that the accident would have occurred anyway. For instance, someone who was driving drunk, speeding, and texting before rear-ending you would likely have rear-ended you regardless of whether you had a malfunctioning taillight. Your lawyer will know to put forth the strongest possible case and argue to have the liability re-assigned to the opposing party.
To illustrate this concept, consider a case where Car A is going 10 miles above the speed limit when they are side-swiped by Car B who was driving intoxicated. The court may determine that Car A’s speeding had no impact on the outcome of the collision. On the other hand, expert testimony may reflect that had Car A been traveling the speed limit, the ultimate damage suffered would have been 10% less. In either instance, Car A may still recover damages because they were not primarily at fault for the accident. In the event that Car B is assigned 100% of the fault, Car A can recover 100% of the damages. If Car A is assigned 10% of the fault and is awarded $10,000 in damages, Car A will receive $9,000 ($10,000 – 10%).
Talk to a Kissimmee Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the experienced Kissimmee personal injury attorneys at Draper Law Office to schedule a consultation.